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Chabot Puente Transfer Student Accepted Directly into UCSF School of Pharmacy

Transfer Student Lorena Vidro

As a single mother holding down two jobs to make ends meet while taking classes at her local community college, the farthest thing from Lorena Vidro's mind was being admitted to the top pharmacy school in the country, let alone doing so without first having earned her Bachelor's degree.

"Once it sunk in, I thought to myself, 'Why not me?' " she says. "I deserve it as much as anyone else-maybe more. I've sure struggled enough."

Only five to ten percent of students accepted into the program are admitted to a class of about 100 students from thousands of applicants from throughout the world. Generally, all students need a B.S. from a four-year college or university. This honor is the second recent accolade for Vidro, who earlier this year received a $5,000 scholarship from Kaiser Permanente and was presented with the award at the annual Puente Mentor-Student Breakfast.

"She's the classic student from the barrio-she has worked so hard to get here, but she doesn't make a big deal about it. She's always had to work two jobs," says Vidro's counselor at Chabot, Ramon Parada. "I'm so proud of her-there was a time when a lot of her friends were dropping out and she was questioning whether she would stick with it or not. Puente provided the support and motivation she needed. This also demonstrates that the (motivational transfer) conferences really work."

Puente's 1998 Motivational Transfer Conference was indeed a turning point for Vidro. Hosted by UCSF, the conference featured a panel presentation including Maria Lopez, a Latina student in the school of pharmacy. Lopez helped inspire Vidro to believe that she too could reach her dreams of becoming a pharmacist.

"You get to help people in a very direct way by partnering with doctors to improve the quality of care," she says. "Being a pharmacist is not just counting pills any more-you counsel people about medical issues that have a real impact on their lives."

She was also motivated by the shortage of pharmacists, particularly bilingual English/Spanish ones. "I have never met a Spanish-speaking pharmacist, so I thought this would be an opportunity to serve a lot of people who face communication challenges that affect their health."

Her journey has not been easy. Her grueling work schedule and commitment to her daughter often made it difficult for her to concentrate on her studies. "I've had to force myself to cut back on my work hours so I could focus on my classes," says Vidro, who is the first in her family to attend college.

Vidro's acceptance into UCSF marks important milestones for both UCSF and Puente.

"The collaboration among UCSF's different disciplines and departments to achieve a pool of culturally competent health providers as potential applicants is one of our major missions," says Dr. David Sanchez, Professor and Faculty Associate for Student Outreach. "Puente's community college program has been a key part of that effort. Through the (motivational transfer) conferences, students are exposed to the unique challenges and opportunities in the health sciences and, given the uniqueness of their language and culture, Puente does a fantastic job in meeting the needs of traditionally underrepresented students."

Eugene Salazar, UCSF's Senior External Program Officer of the Dean's External Program in the School of Medicine, says he is confident Vidro will succeed. "I'm delighted for her," he says. "I hope she inspires future generations of students to follow in her footsteps."

Vidro agrees that if she can do it, so can others. "I feel like I've beaten the odds. People say it can't be done, but I've proven them wrong," she says. "There's nothing that can convince me to turn back now."

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    Phone: (510) 723-6600 | Last updated on 4/25/2013